“Coming here was one of the best things I ever did,” said Sheila Dykes, one week before retiring as a Registered Nurse from Hendry Regional Medical Center. Like many nurses at Hendry Regional, Dykes has been taking care of the community for decades and says there isn’t a face she doesn’t recognize when she goes about her business around town on her off-time.
The 21-year nursing veteran retired on April 30 after working 26 years at Hendry Regional — 21 years as an RN and five years in medical records. Dykes got her start as an RN after answering a call for nurses posted on a board at the hospital. The program would pay for schooling so long as the applicant gave one year back to Hendry Regional.
Dykes, along with several of her colleagues, drove each morning to the Lake Worth campus of then Palm Beach Junior College before graduating in 1994 as an RN. Her one-year requirement turned into 21 years and Dykes said it was the best investment she ever made. “Hendry Regional is one of the best kept secrets in the Glades,” said Dykes. “The people here are wonderful. We are family oriented and I’m proud of that. I’ve worked with the same people forever. They have that longevity, and that’s why we’re so family oriented.”
Dykes also praised the work of rural nurses and doctors, like those at Hendry Regional, who “rely on instincts” to get the job done.
“We don’t have specialties, so our skills have to be much more acute. We need to rely on our instincts,” said Dykes. Dykes said her retirement is “bitter sweet” and looks forward to this new phase of her life, but admits she was already missing her job and colleagues before she even officially retired. “I’m wondering how long it will be until I come back,” joked Dykes a week before her retirement. “My husband is retiring at the end of June from Southern Gardens Citrus and swears I was just trying to do it first.”
Her co-workers also joked that Dykes announced her retirement only after her best friend and colleague, Flossie Dixon, retired earlier in the year.
“She’s just leaving because Flossie left. She was her ‘ride or die,’” joked Tonya McCall, who also works at Hendry Regional.
Dykes admitted she missed her friend and mentor every day, and cannot remember a time when they didn’t work together at the hospital.
But Dykes said her main motivation for retiring was to spend more time with her family.
Her youngest son graduates from The King’s Academy this June, and the nurse hopes to spend as much time with him as possible before he leaves for college in the fall. She and her husband also plan to renovate an old house they acquired in Georgia, which they will use as a second home and respite while visiting their daughter and grandchildren in Savannah.
Though she is sure to miss her coworkers and the patients she has helped throughout the years, Dykes is poised to enjoy thoroughly her new phase of life.